Sugar tax leads to reduction in obesity in young girls, claims study

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy led to a reduction in obesity rates among girls, claims a new report
The introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy led to a reduction in obesity rates among girls, claims a new report

Related tags Sugar sugar tax

The implementation of the Government’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) led to an 8% reduction in obesity among 10-11 year old girls, according to a new study.

Research by Nina Rogers of University of the Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine and colleagues found the reduction of obesity in young girls coincided with the 2018 sugar tax.

In the new study, researchers used annual repeat cross-sectional data on more than one million children in state-maintained English primary schools. Students aged 4-5 and 10-11 were followed over time between September 2013 and November 2019.

Obesity levels

The researchers compared the obesity levels 19 months following the SDIL with predicted obesity levels had the SDIL not happened, controlling for each child’s sex and the level of deprivation of their school area.

They found there was an 8% relative reduction in obesity rates – an absolute reduction of 1.6 percentage points – in girls aged 10-11 years old. The greatest reduction was found in girls in the most deprived quintiles, with an absolute reduction of 2.4 percentage points in obesity prevalence in the most deprived quintile.

However, no overall change in obesity rates was observed in 10-11 year old boys, though a 1.6% absolute increase in obesity rate was observed in the least deprived quintile – equivalent to a 10.1% relative increase.

‘Positive results’

“Our findings suggest that the UK SDIL led to positive health impacts in the form of reduced obesity levels in girls aged 10-11 years,”​ the authors said. “Further strategies are needed to reduce obesity prevalence in primary school children overall, and particularly in older boys and younger children.”

“We’ve shown for the first time that the UK Soft drink industry levy is likely to have helped prevent thousands of children becoming obese each year.”

Meanwhile, in December, food and drink firms reported sweeping reductions in sugar​ in the Government’s Sugar Reduction Programme: Industry progress​ update, but criticism was levelled against the industry for its inability to meet voluntary targets.

Related topics Food Safety

Related news

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast